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Dear AUP Students and Parents,
 
As we close the door on the American presidential elections which have occupied so much time and energy on our campus over the past few weeks—we proudly registered some 250 new voters and the Student Government Association sent 180 absentee ballots to the US—and now open a door to a very new epoch in global politics, I wanted to start by saying how proud I am to lead a university in which students of a record 110 nationalities work alongside faculty from over 30 countries. As a community we revere our values of inclusion, tolerance, and dialogue. We do not seek facile solutions, but instead hold fierce conversations in our efforts to understand one another and acknowledge our inevitable differences.  We have found our way, in the words of our founder, “to transcend the bounds of narrow nationalisms.”  I know that this week in the AUP classroom—amidst all the different languages, cultures, ethnicities, ideologies, and faiths that abound in that space—faculty and students will be seeking ways to deepen understanding of recent events and of this new world our students are inheriting. In this context, I believe that AUP’s mission has never been so urgent to uphold, so important to disseminate.
 
I am officially today on the road again, traversing the US for the next two weeks to visit with alumni, former faculty and staff, parents, and friends of AUP.  I’d like to take this opportunity to invite any parents living within striking distance of Los Angeles on Sunday, November 13, San Francisco on Tuesday, November 15, New York City on Thursday, November 17, or Washington, DC on Sunday, November 20 to join our alumni and parent event and learn more, directly from me, about AUP’s strategic direction, campus plan, and new research centers for innovative, faculty-mentored student work. It would be a pleasure to see those of you whom I met, and those I may have missed, at Orientation.  Please click on the link that interests you and RSVP as soon as you can!  We are particularly eager to have final numbers for the NYC event in the home of a trustee where space is limited. 
 
Always passionate about and proud of the work AUP’s alumni are doing in the world, I wanted to share with you in this November newsletter some of the outcomes of our second Next Destinations Survey. Each year, we survey the last three graduating classes (2012, 2013, 2014) of the University about 18 months out in an effort to gauge our delivery on mission. (60% of the graduates of those years returned the survey, which is more than statistically significant).  And each year the results are stellar, providing rich evidence of the impact of our devoted faculty on our graduates. This year we learned that 93% of the undergraduate alumni were employed within a year of graduation (up from 84% the last time we surveyed). That statistic is more likely to be one a business school would report than a liberal arts university, so we claim it with gusto and attribute it to recent buttressing of our Career Development program.  But I’m certain that the reason for such success is that our students leave AUP with a cultural fluency, a capacity to cross borders with ease and aplomb, and the ability to transfer skills from one domain to another that not every style of education provides. If the student did even a single professional internship during his or her college years, that graduate was 2.5 times more likely to have a job within six months! (Note to parents:  please encourage your children to undertake one or more professional internships during the college years.  You can read evidence of its importance, paired with liberal arts studies at former Provost Scott Sprenger’s blog here.
 
Here are a few more interesting statistics from our study: 
 
  • Alumni of the last three classes are living in 51 countries around the world and doing post-graduate work in 17
  • To name just a few of the grad schools where they are studying: MIT Sloan School of Management, London School of Economics, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, University College London, Goldsmith’s, King’s College London, NYU, Sciences Po Paris, Boston University, Emory, the Fordham, University of Washington and Georgetown Law Schools, Université de Paris V, Sorbonne, University of Pennsylvania, University of Melbourne, EHESS Paris, and Yale University. 
  • 90% of undergrad alumni and 87% of our grad alumni of the last three classes are either studying or working full time, many as entrepreneurs
  • 90% of grad alums and 83% of undergrads confirm an international element to their career
  • 86% of undergraduates cite the AUP multicultural classroom and interdisciplinary curriculum as important to their professional lives
  • 83% of undergrad alumni and 76% of grad alumni cite interpersonal relationships (and, at slightly lower percentages, language learning and diversity) as important to their personal development
  • Roughly 2/3 of grad and undergrad alumni believe that the liberal arts inflection of our curriculum has helped them to progress in their career and to move between multiple career paths.
  • 92% of undergrad alums and 75% of our grad alums are fluent in two or more languages
  • 78% of grad alumni and 72% of undergrad alumni found their internships helpful to their career
  • 46% of undergrad alumni and 17% of graduate alumni have enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program since leaving AUP
  • Undergraduate and graduate alumni value highly faculty mentoring and report that it has been important to them on their career path. When asked which AUP connection was most valuable to you in your job search, the vast majority responded faculty.
 
I say often that we measure the excellence of a university by the impact of its graduates on the world.  It is not the criteria of the rankings, all those things we call inputs—the facilities, the wellness centers, the athletics fields, the number of books in the library, the size of the endowment, the number of publications of the faculty—but by the outcomes—the capacity of a university to develop the humanity and world citizenship of its students, their willingness to contribute to the communities, cities, and countries where they live and work. To my mind, the results of our Next Destinations Survey is ample evidence that our graduates are predictably adventurous, just as they were as students when they chose the outside-the-box institution that is AUP.  They work across cultures and disciplines and languages with ease; they are deft and fearless at transferring skills as they face new professional challenges; they are creative and compassionate in their approach to problem solving and decision making.  They hold dear the idea of connecting with others, especially those who are very different from themselves.  And they are leaders wherever they go.  Once they have experienced the crucible of the AUP classroom where so much alchemy abounds, they take flight, surprising us over and over with their wingspan.  This May at Commencement, as it is also our 55th Anniversary, we will be honoring our own alumni, former students, parents, and board members for the kind of achievement I have described above. 
Students at work
It is worth a reminder that our academic strategy, derived over the past two years from thoughtful analysis of student evaluations and input from an important book, How College Works, is laser focused on improving the freshman experience through curricular reform and redesign of social experience, pedagogies and teaching.  AUP’s curriculum has always also been based on our resolute and historical curricular hybridity, our combination within each major of deep liberal arts learning and vocationally enhancing opportunities for applying knowledge to real-world situations. You may be interested to read this Washington Post article: “Meet the Parents Who Won’t Let Their Children Study Literature.” Also interesting:  “We Don’t Need More STEM Majors, We Need More STEM Majors with Liberal Arts Training”  
 
In order to produce the outcomes I’ve just outlined, we are working hard to create sandboxes on campus, spaces where faculty and staff can experiment together.  Our Civic Media Lab—which will ultimately have its permanent home in the new Quai d’Orsay building we will renovate next year—was launched this fall under the direction of Associate Professor Waddick Doyle, a communications specialist and founder of AUP’s Global Communications Department and Master’s program.  Funded by a generous grant from the A.W. Mellon Foundation, the Civic Media Lab will integrate AUP’s traditional liberal arts curriculum with global media studies, digital technologies, design thinking and experiential or problem-based pedagogies.  The objective is to align the aspirations of our students for intercultural understanding and social and political change with academically rigorous pathways to problem-solving skills and innovative and impactful solutions. Serving as an incubator for curricular experiments that will later find more permanent homes within the AUP curriculum, the Lab will provide a means of continually revising and “making new” our curricular offering in alignment with mission. The Lab is thus a place where faculty and students will meet to develop new curricula issuing from grand challenge questions, exploring as teams how such problems are circumscribed by complex cultural and political frames. Projects at every level of the curriculum and from every academic department are eligible for Lab support.

 
Students working
Finally, when I return to Paris in two weeks, I will be offering, with Kevin Fore, AUP’s Dean of Students, a special workshop for our freshmen degree-seeking students (a workshop for visiting freshmen will follow in the spring).  Because we believe successful college experiences arise from reflection on what constitutes a meaningful life—this prior to final decisions about a major—we will be inviting freshmen to participate in this workshop on values, vision, and alignment of your time management with each of those.  In the second part of the workshop, AUP staff members, students, and faculty will “man” a Resources Fair, so that freshmen can more intentionally design their own most meaningful individual way amongst multiple pathways at AUP.  Please join us for “Designing your AUP” on November 28th at 5h30 pm. A personal invitation from me will go out shortly to degree-seeking freshmen. 
 
For our students:  I wish each of you my best as midterms beckon and the gray of late fall in Paris descends upon us. Keep working out to stave off systemic colds.  Keep studying to meet your goals. Keep reaching out to others, as it is these friends you are making in Paris who will one day hold the archives of your history. 
 
For our parents:   If you like what you have read in this newsletter, please support us!  We have recently launched an annual fundraising campaign—“Your Generosity, Their Journey”—seeking to raise support from alumni and parents to fund the scholarships and travel grants that reinforce the cultural and social diversity of our student body, and enrich the ever-increasing spectrum of study trips and cultural experiences made available to our global explorers.  
 
Warmest,

Our mailing address is:
The American University of Paris
5 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg
75007, Paris, France

www.aup.edu

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